Review: Les Misérable (Theatre Smith-Gilmour)

The story of Les Misérable is well known to most as the 1980 musical by Claude-Michele Schöenberg, be it on stage or the movie starring Hugh Jackman. This theatrical adaptation by Dean Gilmour and Michele Smith, co-artistic directors of Theatre Smith Gilmour, dives into the pathos of the story without relying on any of the big scores and big sets audiences have grown accustomed to. For me, this stripped down retelling of the well-known tale underscores some of the most timeless elements of the story. We do not need as much stuff as we think we need, and adhering to the status quo is not always the right choice. Continue reading Review: Les Misérable (Theatre Smith-Gilmour)

Review: What A Young Wife Ought to Know (2B theatre company and Crow’s Theatre)

Photo of What a Young Wife Ought to KnowA dark comedy of a woman’s life pre birth control, on stage at Streetcar Crowsnest in Toronto

There is no love lost for the past’s treatment of women’s bodily autonomy in 2b theatre company’s What a Young Wife Ought to Know playing at the Streetcar Crowsnest. Things are better now, if not perfect, and we’d do well to try and keep it that way.

At least, that’s how my guest and I felt leaving the theatre. We were haunted, terrified, and struck by just how important it was to hear this specific story in this day and age.

Continue reading Review: What A Young Wife Ought to Know (2B theatre company and Crow’s Theatre)

Review: Voices3 (Canadian Stage)

Tanya Tagaq and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory deliver awe-inspiring performance, on stage in Toronto

If you wanted to prepare yourself for this edition of Voices3 at Canadian Stage, featuring Tanya Tagaq + Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory you could watch Tagaq’s video Retribution, which is a collaboration between the two. In the comfort of your home, you might feel prepared. You aren’t, but until the lights go down, and the theatre is as dark as an arctic night you would think you were prepared. And then Tagaq + Williamson Bathory would be there in the room with you, live and holy, and you will find yourself brilliantly discomfited in whole new way.

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Review: Peer Gynt (Randolph College of the Performing Arts)

Andrew Eldridge and cast in Peer GyntClassic Ibsen play Peer Gynt arrives on the Toronto stage

When I was offered the opportunity to review Randolph College for the Performing Arts’ production of Peer Gynt at the Annex Theatre, I was intrigued. I had read and seen other plays by Henrik Ibsen, but not this one. I figured it would be good for my overall theatre knowledge to see it. And I’m glad I did. It’s a fascinating and very well done production. Continue reading Review: Peer Gynt (Randolph College of the Performing Arts)

PREVIEW: Finding Wolastoq Voice (Theatre New Brunswick)

Finding Wolastoq Voice is Indigenous artist and playwright Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier)’s debut work. The show’s tour makes a stop in Toronto from March 29-31, 2018 as part of the Indigenous Dance Showcase.

Hailing from Tobique First Nation, Samaqani’s personal journey deeply and directly inspired this work. We had the chance to ask her a few questions about this unique “dance-theatre hybrid performance that explores the personal discovery, identity and culture of a young Wolastoqiyik woman awakened by the voices of her ancestors.” See what she had to say after the cut:

Continue reading PREVIEW: Finding Wolastoq Voice (Theatre New Brunswick)

Review: The Monument (Factory Theatre)

The Monument is “haunting, “painful”, “beautiful”, and “vitally important” on stage in Toronto

When Nina Lee Aquino, Artistic Director of Factory Theatre, presented her opening night speech for The Monument she said that Factory Theatre is becoming known for bringing new life to Canadian plays. With the work they’ve done with staging The Monument by Colleen Wagner, a play that originally was shunned and despised by critics, it’s abundantly clear that Factory Theatre is giving life to Canadian plays that need to be seen, especially now when the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women is at an all time high.

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Review: Animal Farm (Soulpepper)

Soulpepper brings “cathartic laughter” to the Toronto stage

George Orwell’s 1945 classic novel Animal Farm was a satirical critique of Stalinism in the Soviet Union. As the program for the production of Soulpepper‘s Animal Farm cheekily notes, “its greatest flaw, identified by a majority of 7th and 8th graders, is that it’s obviously irrelevant to our modern more sophisticated lives.” This new adaptation by Anthony MacMahon takes the premise of the original and applies it it to the issues of today. It also takes the approach of the original, which is not at all subtle. While nuance has a time and place, its not necessary for a hilarious and adept skewering of the current rise of demagogic political leaders.

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Review: Gobsmacked! (Mirvish)

Gobsmacked! is a family-fun a cappella-style musical on stage at the CAA Theatre in Toronto

Even before Glee re-introduced a cappella fever to the viewing public, the art form displayed in the new Mirvish offering Gobsmacked! has had a brilliant history. A cappella groups like Pentatonix now tour and perform, delighting audiences with their range of mouth noises. Gobsmacked! offers a rich sound, centered around obvious star beatboxer Ball-Zee, though overall I found it rather uneven as the various soloists took their turns.

Continue reading Review: Gobsmacked! (Mirvish)